I am well and truly back from my most recent trip to Tokyo. Unfortunately, that reality has sunk in. I had an incredible time and made the most of being immersed in what I consider such a beautiful country and culture. In this new blog series, I will share with you my travel journal. Several times a day, I would take the time to update my travel journal with notes and thoughts and experiences as they occurred throughout my day. The images I share in these blogs will relate directly to those experiences. When it came to taking photos, I just went with the flow and didn’t put too much pressure on myself. On to the travel journal.
Saturday 25 May 2019
Despite a late night, around a 1:00am bedtime I think, and a decent meal and intake of beer, I woke at 5am! I dozed on and off for a bit but gave up and got up for my buffet breakfast in the hotel at around 7am. Not a huge buffet at this hotel, but enough to satisfy with options between western style food such as bacon and scrambled eggs versus a traditional style meal. I went traditional. A bowl of rice. Chilled Mackerel, egg omelette, miso soup, braised chicken and vegetables. Oh and a couple of bits of bacon. Teeny ones. The traditional food was, but it took some patience to get through the cold Mackerel. Cooked fish is not one of my favourite meals. I then enjoyed a cup of green tea while I wrote this. Who is this guy? A healthy Japanese breakfast! Green tea?
My choices of what to do today are wide open. I will do some exploring of Shibuya first of all. I was looking at Google Maps this morning, and most of the pinned places are food related. A guy has to have options, and there are lots of them. These are ones I researched before even leaving Melbourne. I pinned them in Google Maps, so I could find them. There are a couple of stores I want to check out. Bic Camera of course. Don Quixote, Tokyo Hands and I may grab a bento box for lunch from the basement food hall in Tokyu department store. Then I am thinking of hitting up Ebisu. It is not far from here and will be, and it will be an excellent way to spend an afternoon with the brewery and a couple of galleries. We will see.
I have been walking for an hour, and my feet are very sore. I must interject here and explain. I have Plantar Fasciitis in both feet. In short, it causes me pain with the core of it rising from the sole of my feet. Over time, especially with lots of walking, the pain intensifies until I have to stop and rest for a while. A few weeks ago, I had cortisone injections into each foot. In the past, this has significantly reduced the pain for several months. Disappointed to find out that this time it wasn’t enough and it limited my ability to walk far.
I went into Don Quijote and picked up some candy for the kids. Actually lots of candy. It was one of their requests for things I bring back. For the older two anyway. My youngest just wants anything Pokemon related. Don Quijote is a discount store that sells everything from food and candy to makeup and toys. It is a chain and is usually found in each big city. The stores are generally multistorey, but the isles are tiny. And it is floor to ceiling products. I had been on the lookout for a cafe where I could sit and have a cold drink. But could find nothing in front of me. Silly me. Look up – it is the advice you give everyone going to Japan. When looking for a restaurant, look up. And sure enough, there is a sign for a cafe one floor up. So I decided to sit and rest my feet and enjoy a chilled Matcha Latte. I could get used to those. I spoke to my daughter Indi and her grandmother Janet, and of course, Indi gave me a blow by blow run down of what the cats and dog have been doing. Made me miss home. She seems to be well and happy, which was good to see.
I noticed the smell of smoke while sitting inside the cafe. It is funny how in Japan you rarely see people smoking and walking along the street. They have smoking spots that people congregate around. But some cafes actually have smoking rooms. I feel bad for the staff going in there to serve. They are glassed in with a sliding door. The glass is all smokey – not sure if that is an intentional effect or actual smoke stain. Yuck.
I walked around Shibuya for the remainder of the morning. Looking inside some familiar stores and checking out some new ones. I found a stationary store and picked up a few things for the kids and I. Japan makes a lot of the stationary we are familiar with at home. And in some stores, the range seems almost endless. I am feeling very disappointed that my feet are hurting so much. They are swelling in the heat and making my shoes feel too tight. Push on I must. I dropped a few hundred Yen at the Sega arcade centre in Shibuya. Managed to score Brendon a big detective Pikachu soft toy and a Pikachu towel. Pokemon gift – tick! By my accounting, I spent less than if I bought them in a store.
The day was growing hotter and pushing above 30. So I went into the basement of the Tokyu department store. Food heaven! Vendor after vendor selling everything from freshly packed Bento boxes to fresh fruit and vegetables. Stalls are selling tea and chicken and seafood and wine. Such an amazing experience. If you are ever in Tokyo or any other big Japanese city, then do yourself a favour and check the basement food halls of the department stores. They have nowhere to sit, but they sell the most fantastic range of fresh produce and pre-packed meals.
I walked back to my hotel in the hope that a) my room service had been finished and I could soak my feet, or b) I could at least drop off most of what I was carrying, and I could find somewhere to chill until it was ready. But there was someone inside my room cleaning it. So I walked back down the hill to Kirin City (where I had my late meal last night) for a cold beer. Waiting out the room service and writing my journal and just watching the world go by. Thinking about my family back home. There is something extraordinary about being abroad yet having that invisible thread that ties you to home. I feel it every time I am in Japan. I love being here, and again, I feel this thread or threads home. Threads to the children mostly. And to my fury babies. Not pulling at me. But a constant firmness in the line that reminds me of what I have at home. It is nice to be aware of that and know that it flows in two directions. I walked back to my hotel in the hope that a) my room service had been finished and I could soak my feet, or b) I could at least drop off most of what I was carrying, and I could find somewhere to chill until it was ready. But there was someone inside my room cleaning it. So I walked back down the hill to Kirin City (where I had my late meal last night) for a cold beer. Waiting out the room service and writing my journal and just watching the world go by. Thinking about my family back home.